Tag Archives: the one thing

Your One Thing & Other Productivity Hacks

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The Importance of Finding That One Thing

This post is somewhat a follow-up to my time management post although with some additional potential varying tactics. They stemmed from my recent reading of the bookThe ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. If you read my post on Time Management, you know I am a proponent of having three “pillars” or three things I’m going to center things like my business focus around. Mr. Keller says that instead of varying your focus like that, your real approach should be focusing on just one thing. He touches on the popular term “multitasking” which, as many of you probably know, is a fallacy. They have proven, time and time again, that no one can do two things at the same time. You may be able to rapidly cycle between two things very quickly but you cannot do two things simultaneously. They have shown this with texting and driving which is obviously a huge issue in today’s world. It is akin to drinking and driving in terms of its effects on the driver’s behavior. I confess to being guilty of this but only do it on road trips when I am on the highway with not enough cars around to justify utilizing cruise control. You would be amazed at the things I have attempted to do while deploying the cruise control option (especially in my younger years) but those things are probably not appropriate for this type of post and frankly, I’m sure I have some authorities still searching for me because of those violations! But I digress…

Writing Down Your Goals:

To me, the first part of the “one thing” is to write down your goals. A former mentor once told me that “something magical happens when you write down your goals.” Studies have been done that have shown a 39.5% increase in goal achievement if your goals are written down. I have definitely found this to be true and some eerie things have happened as a result of this process (in a good way) but the point I would like to stress is that you need to be specific. One example how my lack of specificity hurt me was when I wrote down my goals in 2012 for my year-end sales results. I had two separate quota “buckets” at the time and I wanted to achieve over 120% of each of them as it would have resulted in a large bonus. I wrote down the number 120% and posted it next to my master bedroom bathroom door where I could not help but focus on it as I walked by multiple times a day. My mistake was not to specify two 120%’s on the paper as while I did achieve over 120% of the combined goal, I did not reach it for each bucket and thereby did not earn the large bonus. BRUTAL! I would encourage you to set goals for each area of your life (family, spiritual, work, physical) and post them somewhere visible (the best place for me is on the inside cover of my wallet where I typically look at least once a day as a reminder) and I believe this causes you to subconsciously develop the steps needed to achieve that end destination. But you may say (as I did) “that is not really one thing; that is multiple things” and while that is true, Gary Keller is speaking more of specific focus areas at specific times of day and to viciously guard those time slots. “Protect your time block” is how he terms it and I have always tried to practice this discipline. It is very easy to intend to guard your time but another it is another thing entirely to actually do things to facilitate. A note on your door, going someplace where no one can bother you and getting up extremely early before anyone else is awake are some of the ways you can help insure you are “protecting your dial time” (as a friend of mine in insurance likes to say). If you do not set goals and/or protect this time, you end up emulating a dialogue between the Chesire Cat and Alice in “Alice in Wonderland .”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here” asked Alice.

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go” said the cat.

I have recently surrendered my life to Christ and while this is not intended to be a religious post, I want to provide examples of things I have done to put “the one thing” into practice. Mr. Keller repeats often in his book that the guideline you should utilize when figuring out your one thing is as follows: “What’s the ONE thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world such by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”. I have tried to deploy this recently and it has helped create great clarity. A recent example occurred during a recent walk my wife and I were on in the park. We always end up in intense discussions about our children and the paths they wish they were on or what we want to put in place from a structure perspective to help them to reach their full potential. This “tactics” end up varying greatly with each discussion and are always multifaceted. It turns into a long list of initiatives needed that don’t end up being fulfilled. During this last walk, I had one of those incandescent moments where I basically came to the conclusion that instead of trying to take all these steps to provide structure for them, we needed to focus on our religious activities and showing them where we were committed to spending our time and efforts. These are doing things like: reading a bible plan every night with my son, my wife and I praying together every night including request to the Lord to show us the path that will allow them to maximize their potential, taking my son to a Christian group one night a week where I help to mentor boys who don’t have father’s in their lives in a group setting, my daughter going to Sunday night children’s small group, us going to church every Saturday night as a family, etc. Instead of trying to do what our parents did (force us onto a path that THEY believed was best for us), we recognize that they are at the point (12 and 15 respectively) that they need to find their own way in the world. Our focus should be setting an example, insuring they spend time in environments where they can be around good people and be immersed in positive words of faith. Now, instead of stressing out with trying to deploy all these different “programs”, we can just focus on our “one thing” and let the chips fall in the way God intended.

Hopefully, I have not given too much away about the book but highly encourage you taking the time to read it. Gary Keller was a high-powered executive who, like many of us, created laundry lists of things to accomplish and ended up burning himself out. With this change to dramatically narrowing his focus, his life underwent a paradigm shift and he found himself to be far more productive than he ever thought possible. It is highly readable text and I promise you will pull some valuable items out of it. In closing, I would like to reference a scene (that Keller begins with) from the immortal Jack Palance in the move City Slickers. Enjoy and please let me know if you get as much out of this book as I did!


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